12 ways leaders can improve employee engagement

Leaders who are looking to improve employee engagement in their workplace would do well to consider these 12 tips. The key drivers of employee engagement are identified by Top Workplaces research. Don’t be afraid to experiment with these suggestions until you find the combination that works for your unique culture.


1. Build trust: Engagement is about nurturing relationships, motivating employees, and celebrating progress together. Employees are more likely to trust leaders who ask, listen, and take action on feedback. Showing intentionality and transparency helps everyone feel more comfortable and confident. 

2. Prioritize organizational health and well-being: Employee well-being and organizational health are priorities at good companies. Employees are more likely to stay engaged in day-to-day activities if they are healthy and feel well. When leaders improve employee well-being, they also prevent burnout and improve productivity. A healthy environment attracts new business and talent. 

3. Show enthusiasm for your work: Passion is contagious, so genuine enthusiasm for work and for the company’s mission is essential. Promoting enthusiasm and positivity at the leadership level shows employees how to turn challenging situations into growth opportunities. 

4. Set clear expectations: Setting clear expectations is part of the basic employee value proposition. It begins early in the hiring process and continues throughout the employee experience.

5. Share goals and strategies: Employees feel well-informed when leaders share important decisions, goals, and strategies. This transparency helps teams prioritize and shows employees how they fit into a broader business strategy. 

6. Encourage training and development: Leaders can encourage training and development by incentivizing managers to nurture their employees, even if it results in team transitions. They also can equip managers with resources to support employee development.

7. Recognize employees and show appreciation: Appreciation and recognition encourage higher commitment and productivity. Showing appreciation regularly ensures employees think about their value within the organization regularly.

8. Encourage workplace friendships and socialization: Socializing makes day-to-day work more enjoyable, inspiring employees to return to work. It also helps people feel more open to sharing how they feel, which helps organizations improve company culture and efficiency. 

9. Keep distractions to a minimum: Inefficiency is a significant cause of poor performance. Inefficient processes and procedures are a big source of frustration for employees. An efficient organization makes good use of its investments, increasing profit with less expense. And when people feel like part of a winning team, they feel empowered to support the company’s mission.

10. Advocate for employees: Employee engagement is all about creating a people-first culture and supporting employee needs. Learn employee interests, values, strengths, and weaknesses. Make it clear that you understand concerns and want to do anything necessary to help them feel their best. Adjusting roles, switching teams, and introducing new technology are great ways to advocate for employees. 

11. Ask for feedback: Ask employees how they feel about important issues, and collect feedback whenever possible. Combining initiatives such as employee engagement surveys and regular check-ins helps leaders collect information on a continuous, measured basis. Employee feedback should be a roadmap for growth and development. 

12. Listen, then follow up: Great leaders know that lack of follow-through is one of the main reasons why employees leave. Listen to your people and follow up on discussions. It’s the perfect way to get insights from those closest to the customer or product. 

Bob Helbig is media partnerships director at Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey firm. Energage is The Washington Post’s survey partner for Top Workplaces.

The trusted source for DC's Employers

Sign up and post a job now

Post a job today

Back to listing

The Washington Post Jobs Newsletter

Subscribe to the latest news about DC's jobs market